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Tot's photo is selected


Katie Charlton, 3, sits in front of the television set on a denim beanbag chair in her family room watching one of her favorite movies.

She giggles, smiling and waving to the cartoon characters on the screen in front of her.

The Bel Air girl's smiling face will appear in New York City as part of a 15-minute public service announcement to air today on the Sony JumboTron, an electronic bulletin board in Times Square. The announcement is sponsored by the National Down Syndrome Society in recognition of Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

Down syndrome is a chromosome disorder Katie was born with March 31, 1992. It is caused by the presence of an extra No. 21 RTC chromosome and causes physical and mental retardation.

Katie was chosen for the JumboTron along with 47 other children and young adults with Down syndrome.

The society put out a national call for photographs that showed children with Down syndrome interacting with children who do not have it.

The photograph could show the children in school, at work or in a park, as long as it promoted the theme of inclusion.

"None of us are the same on the outside. All of us are the same on the inside," said Lori Atkins, public relations manager for the society.

The society received hundreds of photographs and chose 48, with a mix of age and ethnic background, Ms. Atkins said. In the photo of Katie, she is playing with neighborhood friends Danielle Regester, 4, and Danielle's sister, Allison, 2.

Inclusion was selected as the theme because it supports the current goal of integrating children who are mentally retarded and disabled into public schools.

"It's a hot issue that's not going to go away," said Linda Charlton, Katie's mother.

Katie attends the William Paca Preschool, and Mrs. Charlton said she hopes Katie will attend the Ring Factory Elementary School when she is ready for kindergarten.

The Charltons are active in various Down syndrome support groups and awareness campaigns. Mrs. Charlton is president-elect of the Upper Chesapeake Down Syndrome Parent's Support Group, which she and her husband have belonged to since Katie was 7 weeks old. Mrs. Charlton has given speeches about the struggle her family has faced in dealing with Down syndrome. She said she wants to tell her family's story to help others.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm living in two separate worlds," Mrs. Charlton, 37, said. "There's one for our friends with typical children and one for our friends with Down's children. Katie is the bridge to those two worlds."

Segments of the 15-minute public service announcement will air in Times Square approximately twice an hour every day this month.

The 48 participants and their families were invited to New York to view the announcement and participate today in a "Buddy Walk" through Central Park.

After the walk, the restaurant Planet Hollywood was to sponsor a party.

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